Monthly Archives: January 2017

Tesco to revamp distribution network

Changes to Tesco’s distribution network will see the closure of two depots and the loss of 1,000 jobs, the company has said.

However, the changes, which include the closure of Welham Green and Chesterfield distribution centres, will also create 500 new roles. Welham Green’s grocery operations will move to the Reading distribution centre, while the majority of general merchandising will move into one distribution centre at Middlesbrough. The company is also withdrawing from a warehouse shared with logistics firm DHL in Daventry, Northamptonshire. Clothing operations there will move to the nearby Tesco Daventry distribution centre.

Tesco UK and ROI CEO Matt Davies commented, “As the needs of our customers change, it’s vital we transform our business for the future. As part of this we are proposing to close two of our distribution centres in the UK. These changes will help to simplify our distribution operations so we can continue to serve our customers better.”

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Preva Produce in administration

According to reports, Norfolk based potato supplier Preva Produce has been placed in administration.

The company is now up for sale with 20 job losses anticipated due to significant cash flow pressures and difficult trading conditions. Creditor interests have been safeguarded and the possibility of selling parts of the business is being explored, according to joint administrators Matt Howard and Stuart Morton, of accountancy firm Price Bailey.

Operations at the company’s 29,000 sq ft packhouse, in Snetterton were suspended in November, and a sale has been agreed subject to contract. “The management team are working with Price Bailey to review the company’s position and to formulate a strategy. Unfortunately, it has been necessary to make 20 redundancies, leaving 11 staff remaining,” said Mike Howard.

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HTA to hold study tour to Netherlands

The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) has arranged a study tour to the Netherlands from 8–10  February 2017.

As well as an exclusive tour of the Dutch design company Elho head office the tour will include visits to some creative garden centres, alongside the 6th edition of the Garden Retail Experience event in Boskoop, including the event’s gala dinner.

The study tour group will also attend The Auction in Aalsmeer, with a behind the scenes look at the workings of the famous clock from former buyer Paul Moors, Garden Centre Fresh and a guided tour from FloraHolland giving an overview of the whole process.

HTA Event co-ordinator Alexa Stillwell comments “The trip promises to be an exciting and educational experience and our retailers are really looking forward to being inspired and bringing home lots or ideas and concepts to try in their own stores.”

If you are interested in joining the tour or want to find out more, contact

Photo Caption: Attendees at Garden Retail Experience (TREx) 2016

Photo Credit: TREx

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Young Horticulturalist of the Year competition returns

The Grand Final for this year’s Young Horticulturist of the Year competition, which is run by the Chartered Institute of Horticulture (CIH), will be held on May 6th at the University Centre Shrewsbury.

In many ways, the CIH sees this as the competition coming home as Shrewsbury was home to Percy Thrower whose Trust provides an impressive £2500 travel bursary to the competition winner each year, alongside major sponsorship from the Shropshire Horticultural Society.

“Winning the 2016 competition has helped me immensely in securing my new job at Tregothnan, on graduating RHS Wisley in August. YHOY is an invaluable platform for young horticulturists to expand their knowledge. Taking part in the competition exposes you to other talented and knowledgeable young horticulturists as well as seasoned pros alike,” comments last year’s winner Lawrence Wright.

“Every year I look forward to the Chartered Institute of Horticulture’s Young Horticulturist of the Year Competition. It’s a fantastic opportunity for both students of horticulture and those working in the industry to display their plant knowledge and meet fellow horticulturists. I encourage all those who are eligible to participate and I wish the best of good fortune to all those taking part!” CIH President, Dr Owen Doyle CHort FCIHort.

More details, including how to enter, can be found by emailing

Photo Caption: Last year’s YHOY finalists

Photo Credit: CIH

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New head for Crop Protection Association

Former BBC Environment Correspondent Sarah Mukherjee, currently Director of Environment at Water UK, has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association.

She will take over from Nick von Westenholz, who will be moving to the NFU as Director of EU Exit and International Trade in the New Year. Sarah will take up the role on the 13th March 2017.

Commenting on the appointment, CPA Chairman, Gary Mills-Thomas said, “I am delighted that we have been able to appoint someone with such a wealth of expertise and knowledge as the Association’s Chief Executive. As the crop protection sector continues to face significant political and regulatory pressures, which will only be magnified by the process of Brexit, Sarah’s experience working with senior civil servants, politicians and regulators will be hugely valuable.”

“Sarah has an excellent track record in communicating often very complex ideas to both specialist and non-specialist audiences, and I believe she will bring strong leadership and a fresh approach to the opportunities and challenges that our industry currently faces.

Sarah said of her appointment; “I am delighted to be taking up such a crucial post at such a pivotal time for the industry. We need to balance the needs of the environment and sustainable farming with the requirement to feed a growing population, and I very much look forward to taking on these issues next year.”

Photo Credit: CPA

The post New head for Crop Protection Association appeared first on Hort News on 23 December 2016.

Nationwide survey to understand soil pests of potato

A new nationwide survey of potato growers hopes to evaluate the wider implications of key soil pest issues, and assess whether growers are winning the battle against losses, or identify if problems are getting progressively worse.

It seeks to evaluate how growers perceive the effectiveness of current IPM measures in the field and the impacts that adopting new practices have on profitable potato production. Syngenta Potato Campaign Manager, Mark Britton, commented, “The recent AHDB-funded survey has given a good snapshot of PCN incidence, but it is crucial to now assess how growers view the control options available, and how that impacts on the complex interaction of all soil pests in practice.”

The questions have been designed to focus on the practical and financial implications for growers here and now, but would also have a valuable function in helping to shape future research and trials’ priorities to develop appropriate solutions. The survey, which should take less than ten minutes to complete, can be found at until the end of January. All growers and agronomist that participate will have the chance to win a copy of a practical guide to diseases, pests and disorders of the potato, and the survey results will be available to all growers.

The post Nationwide survey to understand soil pests of potato appeared first on Hort News on 23 December 2016.

Farmer confidence higher for next year

A new survey by the NFU has revealed an increase in farmer confidence in the dairy and livestock sectors over the last year, but confidence has fallen in the horticulture and poultry sectors. The NFU says there are serious concerns about labour shortages in the future and increase of the National Living Wage.

Members told the NFU, as part of its seventh annual farmer confidence survey, they anticipated positive effects on their business from the consumption levels of British produce (58%) and output prices (46%). However, farmers feel that input prices will have the most widespread negative impact for the coming year (74% negative), followed by regulation and legislation (53% negative).

Mr Raymond commented: “The NFU has made it clear that for farming to have a profitable and productive future we need reassurance on key issues resulting from Brexit; such as access to a competent and reliable workforce and the best possible access to the Single Market.

“British farming is the bedrock of the UK’s largest manufacturing sector – food and drink. The sector is worth £108 billion to the nation’s economy and employs some 3.9 million people. We urge Government, retailers and the public to back British farming so we can continue to produce high quality produce for the nation.”

The post Farmer confidence higher for next year appeared first on Hort News on 21 December 2016.

Consumers annoyed by smaller brassicas

According to press reports, shoppers across the UK are annoyed by the smaller size of cauliflower and broccoli heads and have been complaining to retailers and taking to social media about the issue.

The reduction in head size and availability has been blamed on the cold weather experienced at the end of November which stopped crop growth just as plants were maturing.

One Asda customer claimed that they had brought a cauliflower which contained just a single floret. “I was laughing to myself. How can they allow it to go on the shelves if it’s that tiny?” Joanne Sutherland from Nottinghamshire told The Sun. Lynda Nicholson from Scotland, was also deceived by what she thought was a standard cauliflower from Morrisons. She said: “It did appear to be a medium-sized cauliflower until I took all the leaves off and it was pretty small, probably about four-five centimetres in circumference.”

Photo Credit: Occado

The post Consumers annoyed by smaller brassicas appeared first on Hort News on 21 December 2016.

Isle of Man nursery installs heat pump

Greenhouses operated by Douglas Council on the Isle of Man have been installed with a new air source heat pump.

The system has been installed at Ballaughton Nurseries to replace an old oil-fired heating system. Discussing the new renewable energy project, which has been named the Most Innovative Project in the Public Sector category of the 2016 Energy Awards, Environmental services committee chairman, Councillor Ritchie McNicholl, said, “The nursery’s oil heating system was coming to the end of its economically viable life.

“Investment was going to have to be made and after careful analysis it became clear an air source heat pump would not only reduce the council’s carbon footprint, but would also lead to saving on fuel oil, estimated to be in the region of £12,000 annually from April 2017.”

Electrical power for the pump attracts a reduced tariff from Manx Utilities, saving further money.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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James Hutton Institute aims to increase blueberry yields

New plant breeding technology is being used by the James Hutton Institute to help blueberries thrive in the Scottish climate.

Part of a comprehensive package of research funded by the Scottish Government in environment and agriculture in 2015-2016, the project aims to produce blueberry plants that are more suited to the Scottish climate, helping to provide local options of this healthy fruit which may help manage type 2 diabetes.

Blueberry production in Scotland grew 10 per cent last year as demand continued to increase. Scottish Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said, “Blueberries are an increasingly popular fruit in the UK. Traditionally blueberries are imported to Scotland but this innovative research we are funding is using new technology to develop plants that are more suitable for the Scottish soil and climate as well as helping us to fully understand the health benefits of this fruit.

“Scottish blueberry production is already on the increase and this should help boost local production of this fruit – which is better for the environment and also good news for our economy.”

Dr Julie Graham, part of the James Hutton Institute’s Cell and Molecular Sciences and leader of the blueberry breeding programme commented, “Cutting-edge plant breeding technology is enabling the James Hutton Institute to develop new blueberry cultivars. These cultivars, better suited to Scottish conditions, should enable an increase in the home-grown blueberry crop, which will be of benefit to Scottish soft fruit growers. Long-term funding from the Scottish Government has been instrumental in supporting this research.”

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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